Does California expunge juvenile records?
There are likely very few adults in California who look back on their younger years without remembering one or two things they regret. Fortunately, most probably will not have to worry about those past regrets (provided they learn from them) impacting them in the present.
Yet that is not the case for everyone. Should one have juvenile criminal offenses on their record, those offenses could potentially limit their future opportunities (such as working in certain industries or securing particular types of housing). This prompts the question of whether one might seek to expunge a juvenile offense record.
Are juvenile records automatically sealed?
The good news is that in some cases, one need not worry about having a juvenile record expunged. California law does not actually “expunge” a record; instead, it “seals” records of juvenile crimes. Sealing essentially serves the same purpose of an expungement, restricting access to criminal records in all but a few select situations (such as reviews for previous criminal activity following a current arrest).
According to the website for The Judicial Branch of California, for cases dismissed by the juvenile court after January 1, 2015, the court automatically seals those records upon the defendant completing the terms of their probation. This applies to all cases except for violent crimes or certain drug offenses.
What about offenses committed before 2015?
For defendants with juvenile offenses adjudicated prior to 2015, the court still allows the sealing of records, yet one must request such a privilege. Sealing a record can only occur in the following scenario:
- The requestor is 18 years of age or older, and
- Five years elapsed since the closing of the case, or
- Five years elapsed since the last contact with probation and the judge believes the patient rehabilitated
The state’s probation department handles such requests.